Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Man on Film: The Expendables 2

It's been a long damn time since I saw this one in the theater, but I can say without pause that The Expendables 2 was every bit the bombastic throw-back action flick it set out to be. Anyone who saw the first one knows what to expect. Stallone, Statham, Lundgren, Couture, Crews, Li, Schwarzenegger, and Willis are back. Jean-Claude Van Damme, Liam Hemsworth, and Chuck Norris are added to the mix. It's just as huge as you are hoping and just as loving an homage to the films in its familial lineage.

Perhaps more importantly, Simon West directs this time around. I love Sylvester Stallone as much as the next guy, and he does have skills as a director. Unfortunately, he doesn't have the chops to really pull off films as bombastic as The Expendables films. His shortcomings were never more clear than in the final battle scene in Vilena in the first film. The intention for a huge finale was there, but much of the action was unintelligible because it takes place at night, in part to presumably cover up for a deficiency in being able to shoot these sequences cleanly. Simon West--who directed, amongst other things, the pinnacle of 1990s action films Con-Air--has these chops. The action sequences in The Expendables 2 are much cleaner and crisper than in its predecessor.

Really, though, you are going to watch The Expendables 2 for its knowing winks and nudges to the pasts of the huge actions stars of yore. You sign up to watch them chew on the charmingly clunky dialogue. You buy the ticket for the train to see all of these guys who you've loved in the past blow shit up and mow down faceless bad guys. And for all of these things, The Expendables 2 gives you what you want. It's not high art, but it's a whole helluva lot more fun than High Art.

Now if only we could get a huge Terry Crews star vehicle.

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